Tampopo Asks a Favor

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Tampopo goes to Goro’s truck to ask him to be her teacher.

The scene from Tampopo where Tampopo goes out to Goro’s truck to beg him to teach her how to be a noodle cook is the most important in the film, because it is the beginning of Tampopo’s journey to becoming a better chef and restaurant owner. It also highlights the level of importance that should be placed on Tampopo and Goro, with the use of low-angle and high-angle shots. In this particular screen shot, the high-angle shot looks down on Tampopo. This emphasizes her lowliness, which is important because Itami uses Tampopo to make a statement about the status of food. Tampopo is humble, like her ramen, and not afraid to ask for Goro’s help. The next shot after this screenshot is a low-angle shot of Goro, which emphasizes his importance in the rest of the movie. Although this scene is short, and seems simple, the cinematography helps viewers feel how much Tampopo wants Goro’s help, especially at the end of the scene when Itami chooses a closeup on Tampopo.

This scene is culturally significant because Itami’s female characters are usually more independent and powerful. By having his female protagonist be more meager, Itami mixes things up from what is expected from him, just like with the rest of the film. This scene connects both Tampopo and Goro to the ramen, when Tampopo says that meeting Goro made her want to become a better noodle cook. This connection sets the rest of the film in motion, and shows that food can connect people and form community, as Goro bonds with Tampopo’s son and the other men that help her. This scene shows an interesting form of intimacy – the intimacy between a student and a teacher, as opposed to the usual romantic confusion that would be happening at this point in other films.

Another cultural point is made through Itami’s highlight of Goro with the low-angle shot. It reinforces a common Western theme of male supremacy. Showing Tampopo’s inferiority is a way for Itami to set up the rest of the movie. At this point, nobody believes in her. Even the camera thinks she is lowly, while Goro is there to save the day. Tampopo is also connected to other characters, like the young employee in the French restaurant, through her portrayal as a humble creature.

Although there is no food in the scene itself, the moment when Tampopo asks for Goro’s help is the most important in the film because it shows the statuses of Tampopo and Goro, connects them to ramen and food in general, and helps readers connect to Tampopo through the use of emotional closeup.

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